The best fitting dress I own, thanks Emery!

Stop the presses. My first finished project of 2014 has me grinning from ear to ear! It’s my Purple Passion Emery.

Emery dress

(No, we haven’t painted our kitchen yet, I did not pick that pale pooh green. And welcome to our broom closet door. And my collection of state plates, which will look much cuter on aqua walls, when we get to painting.)

Well okay, that’s not quite grinning ear to ear, that’s a normal smile. How about this one below then? It’s more like how this dress makes me feel… I guess the expression is something like “psychotically excited”?

Emery dress

Yeah. But it’s true! This dress pattern is Emery, by Christine Haynes, and I’m now obsessed with it.

While I, like many, have been looking at my closet this year, one of the things I hit on when I looked at the closet of my daydreams was that I don’t wear dresses a lot. It’s for a variety of reasons, but here’s two of the biggest ones: (1) I don’t have many dresses that I feel fit me really well (most a little too big overall, and now a little bigger still as I lost a bit of weight last year at some point), so I often feel frumpy in them. (2) I don’t have many cardigans that I feel pair well with the dresses I do have, and the ones I have accentuate the frumpy factor. So we have a double whammy of frumptasticness, in an area where women often feel really awesome and fabulous–wearing a dress, that is!

So one of my goals this year is to come up with at least a couple of rock solid dress patterns that make me feel fabulous, and that I can turn to and alter ad nauseum (like my McCall blouse from 1942 that I made once, twice, three times last year, as well as a couple of the vintage skirt patterns I sewed multiple times, too). At first I was a little hesitant about the Emery pattern. I saw a few versions I really liked, but another few that didn’t “speak” to me, so you know how that goes. But when assessing my wardrobe, it really seemed like it had the potential to be a great basic staple, so I took the plunge.

And I hemmed and hawed on size to cut. It’s taken me awhile to figure out the size I truly am, because I thought I was a larger size for a long time, possibly even all of last year! Well no wonder so much shit is big on me. Sheesh. Anyway, I cut a size 2, choosing the size based on my overbust/underbust, not by my full bust, and expecting to have to do an FBA for the first time. (Not because my boobs suddenly grew–because in fact in losing a little weight they did the opposite–but because I’ve only sewn about 4 dresses in the last 2 years and they were all from vintage patterns that were clearly a little too big. I know, I’m working on dress fit, as I said.)

One thing to note: I’m a pattern piece measurer of the first order. Measurements are your friend. For the size 2, the envelope says the finished bust is 34″ and the finished waist is 28 1/2″. When I measured the bodice pieces at the bust it matched the pattern, but at the waist it was a smidge over 26″. That was actually perfect for me, but it’s worth noting if you’re expecting it to have more built-in ease (which I didn’t want).

I was prepared to muslin it to death if need be. So at first, I just cut the pieces straight out of the envelope with no alterations. And when I tried it on, I was astounded that this is what I got. A muslin that looks like it was made for me This does NOT happen to me. But somehow with Emery, it did.

muslin

(my sewing space is in the basement, btw)

So I plowed ahead with my fabric, a vintage cotton in my stash. I had exactly 2.5 yards, and I was able to juuuust get all the pieces to fit by cutting the bodice lining out of another fabric and cutting the pocket pieces cross-grain.

Isn’t this fabric pretty? At first I thought the flowers were hibiscus, then I wasn’t sure, but they had a bit of a tropical vibe which reminded me of passion fruit for some reason, and I’ve been growing a bit fond of the color purple in the last year…so there you have it. My Purple Passion Emery.

Last year I decided I needed more black in my wardrobe because I have a lot of black shoes, but that dark teal and purple are almost non-existent in my closet, so I’m kind of pushing my comfort zone here. But, an excuse to look for matching accessories, right??

Emery dress

The bodice is lined with turquoise rayon bemberg. Not exactly the right choice to go so contrasty, as I think when I move you can see down the back of my dress and see the crazy lining, but at least it’s cool, right? This was my first time lining a bodice, outside of my Sew for Victory jacket.

I was complaining about the rayon all the way (even using spray stabilizer it’s still a royal pain), but it does feel luscious when it’s all put together. And it makes me feel kind of fancy having a bodice that’s lined!

lining

I really don’t like invisible zippers, so I opted to swap it out for a lapped zipper at the center back. While I was mulling over how this would work with the bodice lining, I sought advice from Lauren of Rosie Wednesday, since I knew she’d made the same modification on her Emerys (1, 2, and her Fall for Cotton version). Thanks Lauren, for making sure my head was on straight! ♥

Here’s what the lapped zipper and lining looks like from the inside. I left the zipper open so you could actually see the lap. And yes, you can totally see my understitching at the top because I didn’t have turquoise thread. Ha! The lining is a little wobbly on the right side along the zipper because I had some extra ease on that side for some reason, but otherwise I think it looks quite good for hand stitching. (I actually kind of like that part of the process.)

lapped zipper and lining

And here’s what it looks like on the outside. I was going to hand pick the zipper but in the end decided the print was busy enough that I could just machine stitch it.

lapped zipper

And nope, there’s totally no pattern matching at all here. I had exactly enough yardage to eek this out with none to spare for things like that! As Lladybird Lauren would say, sorrynotsorry.

Emery dress back

I did make one clerical error, which was to not leave enough room at the top of the zipper stop on the underlap side. It didn’t occur to me until too late that once the lining was sewn and understitched, the teeth went right up to the tippy top, making a little tiny doofy spot above the zipper stop. You can’t really tell in the photos below (although the angle makes my stitches look like they veer off to the left but they don’t…and I know this because they did originally and I had to re-do it, lol). This is an area I’ll work on perfecting in future versions, as I love the center lapped zipper!

zipper

Friends, I am seriously over the moon about this dress and this pattern! Yes, a simple, well-fitting dress is old hat to some of you, but for me it’s a mighty thrilling thing, especially when there’s so few pieces in my current wardrobe that fit really well like this. And it’s exactly the kind of dress I can actually see myself wearing a ton, which is just what I need.

Emery dress

Remember when I said I wanted more dresses and skirts with pockets? Well there’s inseam pockets, even! A trial run has shown my iPhone wants to tip slightly out (by 1/2″ or less), so I may deepen them a bit next time.

Emery dress inseam pockets

When I was prancing around, I felt like the back was kind of gapping but none of the photos showed that, so I think it was perhaps more a case of me trying crane my neck and hold my hair up looking at the back of my neck in photos. I think the only other change I may make to future versions (and oh there will be many) is to lengthen the bodice about 1/2″. I’m short-waisted so this came as a surprise, but perhaps it’s the balancing act of not needing to do an FBA, but my chest taking up a bit of that slack from the torso. Not sure, but I could stand a hair more length, I think. I’ll decide for sure the more I wear this.

Emery dress

It feels amazing wearing a dress that actually fits me well and feels cute and kicky, all while having a fantastic vintage vibe. Seriously, Christine really hit it out of the park with Emery!

emery8

Thank you, Emery, for giving me my new favorite dress!

Don’t be surprised when you see future versions of this pattern crop up in my wardrobe! Square neck, sleeveless, shirtwaist style, maybe kimono sleeves… and hell, I’ll take several more just exactly like this one, too! I already have the fabric for version number 2, which probably won’t deviate from this one style-wise, but it’ll be in a cute vintage-inspired Valentine’s Day print.

Or maybe I’ll change something up a bit with my Valentine version after all… what do you think?

Filed: Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

Tagged: , ,

Golly, 82 Comments!

  • wow – this is lovely and the fit is perfect! i bought this pattern just before xmas and haven’t got to it yet but i can’t wait to. i am hankering after a lace dress and think this could be the perfect pattern for it! i am thinking of lots of different versions.

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    • I have a 1950s dress with a lace overlay and other than some fancy bits, it’s basically this style. I think Emery would be gorgeous in lace!

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  • The fit is really spot-on and it looks great on you! I, too, have seen a few versions of Emery that I didn’t love or didn’t think would translate well to my body type. Your version looks terrific for us hourglassy folk, though! I may have to give Emery another look! (Plus, the bow and peter pan collar are sooo cute!)

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    • Yes, I love the bow and collar too! I have come to realize in my slight weight loss that I’m ever so slightly a pear now, which is uncharted territory for me as I’ve always thought I was an hourglass!

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  • I LOVE IT!! The fabric is absolutely wonderful. I’m so excited for you!! It’s so wonderful having such a good fitting dress, and this looks sensational on you. Glad I could provide a bit of help with the zipper!

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    • Thanks Lauren! It really IS wonderful having a good fitting dress. Seems funny to say it’s a whole new ballgame for me but it is– well not any longer, there’s an Emery army in my future. lol

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  • That fit is incredible!! I’m so glad you tried this pattern! Your fabric is gorgeous and I think those colors look very nice on you!

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  • Omg, you totally own that print! It is just all the right colors on you :)
    The fit is astonishing, that muslin is just flawless. I all with you on the ‘get the right size’ bit. I really struggle with this in my sewing. Seems everything ends up too big, don’t even get me started on skirts…. :/

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    • Thanks Siri, though they feel like all new colors on me! Fortunately I realized a cardigan I plan to knit in February is a blue yarn that, while not matchy with the teal in the dress, I think will work nicely with it. :)

      It’s been a long-time struggle for me too, I chronically end up with items a bit too big!

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  • Love it! By far the best version I’ve seen of this dress so far. Alright it’s on my to do list of patterns. Did you make any alterations to the pattern for the skirt? Or did you also just cut that straight from the pattern? First on my list of to dos, thanks to you, is a battle/Ike jacket which I finally got ahold of a pattern of! Keep on inspiring us to sew!! Looking forward to your future versions of this dress.

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    • Thanks Reagan! I didn’t make any alterations to the skirt, except I now remember I cut a 4 instead of a 2. Although it makes absolutely -no- difference except adding a teeensy bit more fullness, since the entire skirt is gathered. You can’t really go wrong!

      I’m so glad you got a hold of a battle jacket pattern, YAY!

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  • It looks wonderful and the fit is perfection! Everyone should have an Emery in their closet!

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  • Beautiful! And what a great fit!

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  • Ahh, I love it! That fabric, the cut, the fit, it’s all so perfect!

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  • Oh wow Tasha, this is a WONDERFUL dress on you, just perfect! I love the fit, the fabric and all the finishing details – gorgeous. It’s also perfectly timed as the Emery dress is next on my sewing list, so thanks for all the great tips. I was wondering about fit and will definitely measure my pattern pieces before I start hacking into the pattern. I’m so pleased you got a flawless fit without any teeth gnashing, fingers crossed I’ll get lucky too! Congrats again, you look fab! xx

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    • Oooh fabulous Jane, you’re one of the first people I think of when I see the pattern so I know you’ll make a wonderful version!! Good luck, I can’t wait to see!

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  • It looks so good on you! I love floral prints on black. I’m also on the hunt for the perfect dress pattern. My dream version is sleeveless and has big patch pockets.

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    • Thanks Maranda! I have another cut of vintage fabric (not sure it’s enough for a dress, but at least a skirt) that’s a black background, with bright blue flowers. I’m definitely on the hunt for more prints like that!

      I definitely can see myself making a sleeveless version of this. And I love patch pockets, too!

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  • Ohhh, so very pretty! This dress looks phenomenal on you, dear Tasha. I really believe that we each have a few garments shapes/styles that are us flat out perfect for our bodies (and personal styles) and this is unquestionably on of those for you. So happy that things are off to such a gleeful note for you on the sewing/wardrobe revamping front this year!

    ♥ Jessica

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    • Jessica, I know exactly what you mean about a style that flatters us. Thank you so much for saying this is one of those styles for me! I’m definitely inclined to agree with you now that this is complete, and I see myself making several versions of this to flatter my body and style in the future. :) xo

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  • That dress is gorgeous!! The fit is prefect and the minor issues that you had with this zipper don’t keep it from looking very professional on the inside. Make another one! Make another one!

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  • Oooh, this looks so cute on you! I love it! It so perfectly suits you!

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  • This is gorgeous! It’s just the kind of dress I love and wish I had more of. If only I sewed! Someday…

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  • Wow! *_*
    You look so great! I love that dress so much!
    XX
    Mia

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  • That’s a smashing dress, Tasha! It fits you beautifully and looks terrific! I love your pretty hair flower, too.

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  • Beautiful, the fit IS perfect! You are making me what to make another Emery, and I already have 3!! :)

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  • You look absolutely lovely! I am a big fan of the Emery as well, it’s great to have a basic well fitting bodice. One can do practically anything with it!

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  • I love this pattern, every single version I’ve seen I have loved, I need one of these! You look fantastic!

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  • Wow! I just love this dress on you. The color, the fit, everything! Lovely!

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  • Gorgeous! I might have to give that pattern a try.

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    • Thanks Andi! I can see it being up your alley. I’m going to be knitting a Hetty for the Ravellenic Games in a blue yarn that can be loosely construed as matching this dress, so I think it’ll be a great combo. :)

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  • This dress is so pretty! It makes me want to start sewing!

    Lisa.

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  • Oh how pretty! The fit really is fantastic on you Tasha, mega cheers!

    Please wear the dress a tiny bit more before you decide to lengthen the bodice (as it looks perfect to me… but I can’t see where your true waist is anyhow with the full skirt). Sometimes with my fuller skirts – the weight ends up pulling the bodice down and the waist ends up being perfect. I wonder if this could happen with more wearing/different fabric.

    Looks great and can’t wait to see Emery #2 – and more. :D

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    • Thanks Liz! Very good point on the bodice length, I want to wear it several times before I may a final decision. Part of it may be that I really don’t own many dresses that sit at my waist because of being short-waisted, so I’m *very* used to the feeling of excess fabric on top that gives me more ease when raising my arms, sitting casually, etc. So honestly that is probably making me question my judgment as I’m not used to how it *should* feel!

      Regardless, if it is a little short it’s by a very small margin (so it’s not a big deal), so Emery #2 will get made just like this one while I decide for future-future versions. ;)

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  • That’s such a pretty dress! I love the colours and the print, and the fit, heck- I love all of it!

    Thank you in particular for showing the inside of the lapped zip. I’ve always wondered how the top is supposed to look given that the right side of the garment has to have the lap, and the lining on the inside of the garment has to come across away from the teeth of the zip. I feel like mine are “normal” now!

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    • Thanks! I kind of winged it at the top. I closed the zipper first, just to be sure I wasn’t accidentally going to attach the lining so close as to cause problems, and then just tapered it away a little more at the very top on the overlap side because of where the lining and fabric meet at that top corner. Not sure if there’s a more precise way, but I think it worked well!

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  • You look lovely! I’m currently on my third muslin for a basic darted bodice like this, ugh, but that’s life I guess. If I keep going, I’ll get there and can be as fabulous as you?? :) definitely make loads of versions of it! Well done!

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  • This is one of the best, if not the best, version of Emery I have seen! I like that you made this more fitted to suit you. Mine is a little loose, so on my next version I might try to take it in a bit to fit like yours. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

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    • Awww, thanks Erin!! I was expecting to have to take it in at the waist for a more fitted look, so it worked out a happy accident when I was measuring the pieces. I can’t wait to see your second version! ;)

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  • That truly is a well fitting dress! How wonderful to find a pattern that suits you so well. A great start to your new year sewing!

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  • What a wonderful fit! I love that you added a lining. I’m trying to learn how to do this but I think I may have gone a little too far with my current dress to add in a lining. At what point did you add in your lining? I also very much love your fabric choice. Did you buy your fabric online?

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    • Thanks! The pattern actually calls for a bodice lining, so I didn’t freestyle that, although I did have to change how it’s inserted with the zipper since I wasn’t using an invisible zipper. So with doing a lapped zipper, I basically assembled the entire dress *except* the sleeves ( the lining and fabric are sewn together when you set the sleeves in, per the pattern, although you could fold the lining seam allowance in and blind stitch it). Then inserted the lapped zipper. Then sewed the lining to the entire neckline, understitched the neckline, and then blind stitched the lining to the zipper tape and the waist seam by hand.

      Also, I can’t remember where I got the fabric, but it may have been an Etsy find. :)

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  • Lovely, you look great in this dress and how exciting to get such a perfect fit too. Very practical reasons behind your fabric choice too, you’ll definitely get so much wear from this gorgeous garment.

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  • I love this dress although don’t own the pattern (I’m pregnant, so little point!) and I love how it looks on you. I know what you mean about some versions appearing a little “meh”. I think if the bodice doesn’t for well, it has the propensity to appear a little frumpy. But not yours! I love the fabric and the fit is great on you. Must be such a relief to finally find a good pattern! I look forward to your future versions!

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  • Stop the presses indeed! How ruddy beautiful is this?!? Insanely beautiful! And you’re so lucky that your muslin fit so well, you can now churn out a million of these babies! LOVE your fabric too…love everything about this!

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  • Such a cute dress! I love the colors – my favorites!

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  • That dress is super gorgeous on you!!
    The fit is amazing, and one could sense your happiness and pride wherever they are.
    I also love how your bangles go with the dress

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  • Your dress is amazing, such a fantastic style and fit! It really suits you. I like the colours a lot and the print is pretty. Looking forward to seeing more of these!

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  • I love this dress, and I adore your blog! I’m so glad I found you!

    Hugs

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  • I LOVE that fabric. I have never met a crazy floral I didn’t love though, so that’s probably no suprise! Very nice make though, the zip looks great.

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  • Oh my gosh that is too cute! I have the pattern but haven’t really been inspired yet either until now!
    The fabric is gorgeous! Purple is my fav colour and the love the floral print.
    So good when you love something you make ;)

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  • This dress is awesome – you are awesome *-*

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  • Absolutely stunning! And I just love the fabric you chose too!! Definitely a TNT pattern!

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  • That looks lovely – and how nice that your first project of the year came together so easily!

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  • That is a truly gorgeous dress! I have one dress pattern that I go back to over and over again (I actually only own one real bought-in-a-store pattern would you believe!) and it has a lined bodice, and I love it. The first run through ended in an almost tearful call to Mum of “It’s a lined bodice and I don’t know what I’m doing and the instructions don’t make sense!” but once I had it down I am never going back to unlined bodices. They are just so much more comfortable to wear, and I find they sit a lot better than non-lined bodices.

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  • Perfect! And oh so pretty! I love that fabric, the colours are gorgeous. How wonderful to have a pattern fit so well without any alterations. Being short-waisted myself I understand but I don’t think you need to add any length, it looks just right in the photos. I can’t wait to see more versions of this dress.

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  • What an amazing dress, the fit looks perfect. And I love the print on the fabric and your shoes and your blog (now I’m starting to starting to sounds like a crazy lady, I’m not promise!). I’ll have to look into the getting the Emery dress pattern, I’m currently making Christine’s Sassy Librarian Blouse and really liking.

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  • What a dress! The fabric is absolutely wonderful and I hope you will add some more of these colours to your wardrobe as they really suit you. The fit is great too. This is another pattern that I need to add to my ever growing wishlist.

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  • I’m SO excited your muslin fit so perfectly right off the bat!! That’s such a rare treat. What a wonderful welcome back to the sewing bandwagon after your knitting adventures :)

    So excited to see your Valentines Day version. It’s going to be amazing!!

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  • That is truly stunning, and looks amazing on you!! I don’t wear many dresses either, but am hinting for my partner to get back into sewing so she can make me one, heh heh :P

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  • Wow, this looks so pretty!!! If I were you I would certainly start an endless series of Emery dresses in all possible colors and fabrics. I know, it is soooo hard to find a great-fit-straight-from-the-envelop pattern.
    Right now I’m struggling with my Knit for victory project aka my Victory jumper from hell. It certainly will be the greatest victory when finished…

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  • This is such a cool dress!
    And you are right, it’s a very good fit.

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  • This is superb! Thank you for a great post! Dress-a-Day had a similar post about her ‘go to’ dress based off of a 1577 Simplicity pattern. The Emery looks very similar and much easier to find!

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  • I’m only JUST in the beginning stages of learning to sew so I only understood about half this blog post. I will say I understand the dress looks fabulous on you and you should make it in about 90 different colors and patterns.

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  • […] Haynes. I told you I was going to make a bunch of these! I’ve only just begun. After my first version which had no alterations to the pattern, I decided to change the neckline to square for this one. I […]

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  • […] dress is technically another (first, second) version of Emery by Christine Haynes, although it’s getting to the point where […]

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